“Our added winter moisture and active calling period led to a very long nesting and hatching season, starting in late April and extending into early summer, with chicks hatching as late as early July,” O’Dell said. “From a population standpoint, we are out of a deficit for the first time since 2001-2002. Quail are starting to pop up in places they haven’t been seen in a while.
“If you’ve never had the chance to experience what Arizona quail hunting built its name on, then this would be the year to get out and enjoy it.”
Meanwhile, hunters should note that the season for Mearns’ quail doesn’t begin until Dec. 4. It’s summer rainfall that plays a key role in nesting success and population numbers of this species. After a spotty and relatively weak monsoon across southern Arizona, these birds are likely to be abundant only in pockets that received sufficient precipitation this summer.
A valid Arizona hunting or combination hunt and fish license is required for all hunters 10 and older. Those hunters under 10 must either have a valid hunting or combination hunt and fish license, or be accompanied by an adult who possesses a valid hunting or combination hunt and fish license. Licenses can be purchased online or at license dealers statewide. A youth combination hunt and fish license (ages 10 to 17) is $5.
The general bag limit is 15 quail per day in the aggregate, of which no more than eight may be Mearns’ quail (when the Mearns’ season opens Dec. 4). The general possession limit is 45 quail in the aggregate after opening day, of which no more than 15 Gambel’s, scaled or California quail in the aggregate may be taken in any one day. After the opening of the Mearns’ season, the 45-quail possession limit may include 24 Mearns’ quail, of which no more than eight may be taken in any one day.
More quail-hunting information can be found on the department’s website at https://www.azgfd.com/Hunting/. Another resource for both new and experienced hunters alike is “An Introduction to Hunting Arizona’s Small Game.” Written by Randall D. Babb, the 196-page, full-color book covers where and how to hunt small game birds (like quail), squirrels, rabbits, ducks and geese. It also includes how to prepare and cook your harvest, with illustrations and recipes. The book can be ordered for $16.95 at www.azgfd.gov/publications.
Publishers Notes: OUT OF STATE HUNTERS, FISHERMEN & OUTDOOR ENTHUSIASTS; Due to the Covid 19 pandemic, there could be limitations for OUT of STATE hunters, fishermen and other outdoor enthusiasts to include a 14-day quarantine requirement or negative COVID-19 testing alternative. Please check with the State's Department of Natural Resources BEFORE you travel or apply for the 2020 Fall Hunts.
Disclaimer: The views expressed on this site are that of the authors and not necessarily that of TBC Press
Colorado Asks Everyone to Respect Winter Closures at State Wildlife Areas in Montrose Region
Submitted by: TBC Press
Posted on: 01/04/21
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During winter, deer and elk migrate from the high country to lower-elevation areas in search of forage and safety. The animals feast on abundant vegetation throughout the summer and gain the fat they need to survive through the winter. Little food is available during the winter and deer and elk usually lose 20-40% of their body weight. Protected winter range areas provide some food sources and allow animals to remain undisturbed. Many elk and deer also give birth to their young at these two state wildlife areas.
Unfortunately, too many people ignore the closures and animals are harmed. When they are disturbed they are forced to burn energy that they can’t afford to lose. By late winter many big-game animals are running on empty.
“We know people like to hike and walk their dogs, but please do not enter closed areas during the winter,” said Rachel Sralla, area wildlife manager for CPW in Montrose. “It has been incredibly well-researched that disturbing big game during the winter has an adverse effect. We need to accept that our actions do add up and it’s the cumulative actions that take a toll on wildlife.”
All closures are clearly marked. CPW officers will take the time to explain the reasons for the closures, but enforcement action will be taken if necessary. Those violating the closures can be ticketed and hit with a fine of $140.
Hundreds of thousands of acres of public lands in Montrose and Ouray counties are open year around, so there is no lack of places to hike, bike, cross-country ski and snowmobile.
“We live in an area with plenty of BLM and U.S. Forest Service lands that are always open. Please, respect our vulnerable wildlife and explore other areas during the winter,” Sralla added.
CPW asks the public to report violations of the closures. People are also reminded that it is illegal to allow a dog to chase wildlife in any location.
For more information about the closures and public lands, please call CPW’s Montrose Service Center at 970-252-6000 or the Gunnison-Uncompahgre National Forest at 970-874-6600.
Publishers Notes: Our country is still battling COVID-19. To avoid the spread of this virus and continue to enjoy outdoor activities, ALL outdoor enthusiasts (man, woman, child) should follow the guidelines set by nps.gov. These guidelines include; social distancing, the Leave No Trace principles, including pack-in and pack-out, to keep outdoor spaces safe and healthy.
Winter is tough on wild critters, that’s why Colorado Parks and Wildlife maintains State Wildlife Areas to protect critical habitat that provides refuge areas for big game. In Montrose and Ouray counties, the Billy Creek State Wildlife Area and the Cimarron State Wildlife Area provide more than 11,000 acres of important winter range that is well used by deer and elk.
To protect wildlife, CPW implements seasonal closures and all public access to these areas is prohibited during the closure period. The Cimarron SWA, located east of Montrose, is closed from Jan. 1 through June 30. The Billy Creek SWA, located south of Montrose, is closed from Jan. 1 through April 30. except along the Uncompahgre River corridor near U.S. Highway 550 as posted.
“As the human population in western Colorado increases, critical winter habitat for big game is more important than ever,” said Dave Hale, property technician at Billy Creek. “Colorado’s state wildlife areas are some of the best places for wildlife to find refuge during the cold-weather months.”